A survey finds more than three-quarters of Americans are afraid that online companies know too much about our browsing habits
More than three-quarters (76 percent) of Americans believe that online companies, such as Facebook and Google, know too much about our browsing habits and control too much of our personal information, according to a recent Adweek/Harris poll. Harris Interactive, the research firm, surveyed more than 2,100 adults in late April and found that men and women of all ages agreed that the largest Internet companies are too powerful, though those belonging to the most affluent or oldest demographics were more likely to strongly agree.
"With the recent announcement that Microsoft would acquire Skype, one of the most prominent VOIP calling services, in a record-breaking $8.5 billion cash deal, the omnipotence of certain online companies has become even more evident," according to the press release that accompanied the survey results. "And, it seems that control of so much information by these online companies makes Americans uncomfortable."
But how can we make people more comfortable? What can we do about what many feel is a serious problem? Not much if we let those same people who believe Google knows too much have their way. While 36 percent of survey respondents are "strongly" concerned about what Google and Facebook know -- and just 16 percent disagree completely -- only 36 percent said that they support government intervention. "Americans are torn," according to Harris Interactive, "possible between ideals of free enterprise, the products and services that they use and enjoy which these large businesses provide, and their trepidations about companies yielding so much information and power."